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Life on the Road
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A lot of a photographer's
working life is spent on the road. 

Some trivial statistics
and a few nuggets of wisdom
I have picked up traveling
the wide open spaces
of the Great Plains:


The incidentals -

  • Traveled 300,000 miles by vehicle
  • Opened and closed 1,200 fence gates
  • Fixed 12 flat tires
  • Gotten stuck 6 times (went and found help once)
  • Sunk a canoe three times
  • Truck caught on fire once
  • $3000 in long distance calls
  • Lost truck keys twice (found them twice)
  • Lost dog once (found dog once)
  • Got shot at once (80 yr. old lady/too many sips of gin/with shot gun at about 1000 yards - long story)
  • Drove through two tornadoes (survived both)
  • Ran over tripods three times
  • Dropped cameras and lenses in the water twice (salvaged one by unscrewing the back element and hanging it out the window from North Platte to Lincoln.)
  • Almost drove into a river once (Thanks, Patty), but have never been in an accident
  • Never got lost but have been temporarily disoriented several times.

    Things learned -
  • With rare exception, anything you do will take twice as long, cost twice as much and be twice as hard as you thought.
  • If a rancher says its just over the hill, pack a lunch. If he says it is just down by the river, bring a boat. If he says you can't miss it, make darn sure he goes with you.
  • If you build a floating blind that sits over the top of you and looks like a bird perch, build a splash guard.
  • Don't drink caffeinated coffee before you put on three layers of clothes and chest waders.
  • If you build a blind in a prairie dog town, make sure it is snakeproof and bring a flashlight before crawling inside.
  • Whatever the weather report predicts, expect the opposite.
  • "Power bars" get hard as rocks if it is below 20 degrees. Water bottles freeze in your sleeping bag at night if it is below zero.
  • In a small town café, the daily special is the best bet- and make sure to get the pie.
  • If you go west to photograph birds, make sure you don't grab the eastern bird field guide.
  • If you go with researchers out in the field to study/photograph plants, make sure you take a Latin translation dictionary because most of them don't know the common names.
  • If a gas station is open in western Nebraska on a Saturday and you are at less than half a tank, fill up.
  • If you don't know where you are going before you get there, make sure you at least know where you came from.
  • Sandy roads are better when wet, dirt roads are better when dry.
  • Don't try to slide through a barbed wire fence with a backpack on if you are alone. Actually- don't try to hurdle one either.
  • Leaving your family is the worst part of the job. Taking them with when you can is the best.
  • Don't get a cell phone plan whose minutes are free in Nebraska when you spend most of the year working in South Dakota.
  • If your dog gets sprayed by a skunk and you have your in-laws vehicle and it is 15 degrees outside and you are three hours from home, setting your dog in the far back, rolling down all the windows and driving at 75 mph will keep most of the stink out of the car but you will be damn cold, and damn mad at your dog.
  • It's true, duct tape, bailing wire and a crow bar are your best friends.
  • Going for several days without a shower is tolerable, without brushing your teeth is not.
  • Don't set up a tent in a bull pasture.
  • If at the end of the day the light is good, wait and it will get better. If it is good at the beginning of the day- hurry up, it won't last much longer.
  • Always check your pants and coat for film before you put them in the washer.
  • Always bring more film than you think you will need.
  • Always, always have a camera ready.


 

 

 

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